Thursday, November 20, 2008
City and State Open New Traffic Monitoring Center
Will Allow DOT, NYPD to Coordinate Response
By Conor Greene
A new state-of-the-art traffic management center – a joint venture between the state and city transportation departments – has opened in Long Island City and will allow officials to immediately react to accidents and other incidents on roads throughout the five boroughs.
The facility brings together under one roof the various agencies responsible for monitoring roadway conditions and responding to incidents, including the state and city Departments of Transportation and the NYPD. Using cameras and speed detection equipment placed on city highways and streets, officials from the different agencies can all observe the same camera feeds around-the-clock, allowing them to share information on incidents and coordinate the appropriate response.
The new center includes three large video walls and 24 smaller monitors that can cycle through feeds from nearly 500 closed-circuit television cameras monitoring traffic flow on major city roadways. It was unveiled last Thursday during a ceremony attended by city and state transportation, police and highway officials.
“Effective communication is critical to efficient traffic management, and the JTMC is a giant step forward in improved communication that will immediately help reduce congestion and smooth traffic flow for the traveling public,” said state DOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn.
“The roads of New York City are the circulatory system for the movement of people, goods and service in and around the metropolitan area. When incidents occur, delays can be extensive, affecting large portions of the whole system.”
Jeffery Kolb, New York division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration, called the facility a “life-saving investment in road safety” that is “crucial to easing congestion, keeping motorists safe and to the longterm health of the American roadway.”
The center takes advantage of Intelligent Transportation Systems technology, which was first implemented in 1998. At that time, it was limited to cameras and other detectors on roads in order to monitor traffic and convey incident information to a central facility.
While information flow and response times improved greatly as a result, each agency was still housed in separate offices. Traffic monitoring was performed by the city and state DOT, which then provided the NYPD with a verbal description of those agencies. Physical separation limited the coordination of response.
“The demands being made on our transportation network require that we use technology to better manage the capacity that we do have,” said city DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Equipped with the latest technology, this new, state-of-the-art JTMC can improve the ways we monitor traffic conditions throughout the city.”
Other ways the center will help manage traffic flow include acting as a source for public notification of incidents in the metro area as a nexus of information on roadwork in the city. Staff can activate the nearly 100 electronic variable message signs along roadways and provide radio announcements to notify travelers of delays.
The public can register at users.nyalert.gov to receive e-mail alerts from the state Emergency Management Officers. In addition, the city and state DOT will provide weekly updates on lane closures, which will be posted for the public on Websites including trips123.com and travelinfony.com.
During large-scale events that affect traffic around the city, such as the New York City Marathon and the opening session of the United Nations, the various agencies can work together to map out logistics and develop public information plans.
The state and city are so proud of their new center that it will be showcased during the upcoming Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress, said Sadik-Khan. Construction of the $16 million facility was primarily funded the federal government, and the city DOT is responsible for its daily operations.